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Graduation: Where do we go from here?

Apologies for the delay in my blog- it has been one hell of a time recently and not in a woohoo! way. Reports, being poorly and the second half of my dissertation module…it’s a busy busy time.

It is a shame I started this blog in my final year as I keep thinking of things I want to write about but I just have so much to do! I have only just come to realise that I have just under 3 weeks of my undergraduate degree left. I now feel slightly nauseated, especially as I still have coursework deadlines and revision season looming…

Add to that the ever-present knowledge that I have to keep filling in applications for PhDs, for graduate schemes, for funding, for jobs. I know that this summer, I will be unemployed most likely (though my fingers are firmly crossed for the applications I’ve sent off/interviews I’ve done).

That’s the climate we’re in now and whereas the other summers I’ve known uni will be there in September. God knows, I wish I could be applying for an MRes or MSc but I just don’t have the money, so I need to follow different routes to hopefully get to the place I want to get to.

As a graduating biologist, there are many routes I could go down and that’s going to be the main body of this post or it’ll just end up in me talking about being in something of a blind panic and if you wanted to read an incoherent mess of babble then you’d be back on Facebook.

Now.

NB. The pros and cons are what I have heard of others opinions. I don’t want to insult anyone’s jobs/future career choices!

INDUSTRY

This is a large area of recruitment for science graduates and that makes sense. There are a variety of different areas for all interests, from pharmaceutical research to agricultural.

There are large numbers of graduate schemes to ease you into this new environment from university because let me assure you, it is a very different experience. I have some industrial experience at a cell line manufacturing company and the volume information you needed to take in and the hours you needed to put in were astounding. If you are working with cells, you work around the cells, so you work when they dictate you work, which meant that there were staff coming in on weekends, on evenings, on weekend evenings! But this is not the case at other companies, but going from your university hours to 37.5+ hour weeks, every week is a lot more exhausting than you will expect.

There are pros and cons to his area of work. The pay is good and the opportunity for career progression is immense. You will get to work with a variety of companies so there is the opportunity for a lot of networking as well as carrying out work and research.

The con is mainly that you are not in control of what you research and there is the potential for some to feel restricted in the area of work you’ll be doing.

PhD/Academia

 

So the big draws of industry I just mentioned? Don’t be banking on those straight into your career of research scientist and academic. A lot of PhDs are funded to some extent at least, though that often only applies if you’re interested in the ‘right’ area of biosciences. There are large funding bodies like the BBSRC and the MRC who fund a lot of the medically beneficial research but that is absolutely not saying that there aren’t studentships for animal biology, plant sciences and all other realms but I’ve been told there aren’t as many (please correct me if I am wrong!). The benefits obviously include you getting to choose the area of research you go into, you direct it and follow it from the beginning to the end. The pay is different depending on the studentship but I very much doubt that is why anyone goes into undertaking a PhD. You need to have the passion and the drive for it. You have to motivate yourself; it’s your project after all, your results at the end of it.
Also, having a PhD put you in excellent stead if you eventually want to leave academia for, say, scientific publishing or editing.

Health

In the UK, the NHS offers the NHS Scientist Training Pathway that is highly competitive and a tough 3 year course. If lucky enough to get on it, there are a whole number of specialisms for you to choose from (though you can only apply for two) from microbiology to genetics to reproductive sciences, there’s something to interest everyone. Some roles are very much lab based but others, like Cardiovascular, Respiratory and Sleep and Reproductive have large patient contact aspects as well. Over the 3 years, you work throughout your department, learning a variety of laboratory skills which you will be assessed on. You will also be working on an MSc degree at a university that the NHS has accredited. At the end of the course then, you have 3 years full time work in a hospital/clinical setting and a masters funded by the NHS.

I can imagine you can see why it is so competitive.

Other!

Obviously, many science graduates don’t go into either of these options, as a science degree sets you up well for many areas of life! There are graduate schemes in all areas that respect the work ethic and knowledge from a strong degree, there’s obviously teaching which is especially important for sciences at the moment, even though biology is seen as one of the more popularly subscribed sciences, there is still a huge demand for teachers.

There’s going into health and safety work for councils, helping with policies…in fact, let’s face it, you could do anything! Not everyone who enjoys and has an interest in science wants to do it as a career. Fortunately, at university there are graduate talks from all sectors and careers fairs and the Cv clinic to make sure you have the best chance at getting into your graduate career of your choice.

If you can think of something I’ve missed out, please comment!

What do you plan on doing once you’ve left the status of student?

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